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Alisa Schnitzer's Devar Torah at Preidah 5771

A Bayyit for Leadership

Alisa Schnitzer

Banquet 5771

I think we can all recall the first time that we unintentionally referred to Midreshet as "home." For me personally, it was on a Motzei Shabbos, after spending Shabbos in Chevron with a friend from a different seminary. It was early on in the year and at that time it came as an utter shock to me that the words "I need to get back home" had managed to slip out of my mouth. I quickly rephrased what I had meant to say in disbelief of the words that I had actually said. That place can't actually be my home-the rooms are tiny, the bathrooms dont have a separation between the shower and the floor, and on top of that, its located in a hospital!

It wasnt long before the word once again managed to slip out of my mouth. This time, it was in January, when my family was here. After spending the day touring with them, I needed to get back to class. Yet once again, I told them I needed to go back "home." This time, however, I was a lot more content with my word choice.

The dictionary offers two definitions of a home: the place where something is discovered, founded, developed and promoted; a source. And the social unit formed by a family living together. Similarly, In Hebrew, the word "bayit" is used as the term for a home. But throughout Tanach, the word bayit is used in many contexts in order to illustrate the various aspects of a bayit, aside from its physical structure.

The first aspect of a bayit is found in Parshat Tetzaveh, where the Torah uses the word bayta when describing the construction of the eiphod and where the rings were placed. It says:

, , , - ---, - ."

Before the actual rings were placed in the eiphod, they were placed in the bayta, or a location that holds things. Bayit here refers to a foundation.

Another aspect of the word "bayit" is found in Parshat Noach, where Hashem tells Noach:

You and all of your household should come to the ark. "- - -"

Bayit in this case refers to Noachs household, his family. However, those in your household aren't necessarily restricted to your blood relatives. It includes those that you surround yourself with, your chevra.

Similarly, in Parshat Bo, when Hashem tells Moshe to command Bnei Yisrael to sacrifice the korban pesach, the same aspect of bayit is portrayed. Hashem tells Moshe:

, -- , , : , ---

On the 10th of the month, they should take for themselves one lamb for one extended family, one lamb for each household. This pasuk, at first glance, seems repetitive. Why would Hashem command Bnei Yisrael two times in the same pasuk to sacrifice a lamb for their families? In fact, the halacha is that the lamb was not merely for ones family, but needed to be shared by a group of families. "Seh Lebeit Avot" reffers to one's immediate family, and "seh lebayit" refers to the group or those that one associates with.

Additionally, Bnei Yisrael is referred to as Beit Yisrael, and Beit Yaakov. In these cases, bayit means community. Hashem himself depicts Bnei Yisrael as a community when He describes Moshe as "Bechol Beiti Neeman hu"-Moshe is the most loyal in Hashem's community, am Yisrael.

Another aspect of the fundamental concept of a bayit is found in parshat Vayeitzei. When Yaakov wakes up from his dream, he says:

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How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of G-d! This is the gate of heaven!

In context, the word Bayit here refers to a place in which we discover Hashem. Bayit here symbolizes not only the home you are raised in, but the home that raises you. It is therefore understandable why the word Bayit precedes the central places of Avodat Hashem such as a Beit Midrash, Beit Knesset, and the Beit Hamikdash.

The Final aspect of a Bayit is found in the beginning of Parshat Shemot, regarding Shifra and Puah. As a result of their true yirat Hashem, demonstrated by their refusal to kill the Jewish children born in Mitzrayim, Hashem's reward for them is: "Vayaas Lahem Batim"-He made for them houses. According to Rashi, Batim is "batei kehunah uleviyah umalchut, shekorin batim. Hashem did not build them houses in the literal sense; rather, batim refers to dynasties of kehunah and shevet Levi and Malchut. The word Bayit here symbolizes the aspect of a legacy. A huge component of a home is the legacy that one leaves.

Midreshet is truly my home in every physical sense. The dorm is my living room; the cafeteria, my dining room; the beis, my den; the teachers and faculty, my role models and parents; my classmates, my sisters. Midreshet is not only my bayit in the literal sense, however; it encompasses all of the aspects of a true bayit. The home that Midreshet has created for us is not one that is limited to a physical space: The home or Bayit that it has created will lead us on the journey that our lives take us on. It is the foundation of our values; it is the chevra and community we have formed; it is the place where we discover Hashem and serve Hashem through learning Torah and constant inspiration.

I cannot stress enough my gratitude to Vicky and Rabbi Berglas and the whole Midreshet faculty for "parenting," supporting, and infusing this bayit with constant inspiration. You have been such amazing role models and leaders.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains: We are each called on to fill a number of leadership roles: as parents, teachers, friends, team members and team leaders. There is no doubt, however, that Judaism favors as an ideal the role of a parent encouraging those we lead to continue the journey we have begun, and go further than we did. A good leader creates followers; a great leader creates leaders."

The Midreshet Faculty have been great leaders in this "bayit" that they have formed. You have enabled us to leave our physical homes in which we were raised and join a new home a portable home, where values, friendships, and love of Torah will stay with each and every one of us forever.

My brachah for all of us is: May we live up to the last aspect of a bayit-the aspect of a legacy and leadership. May we all be zocheh to leave a legacy and become the great leaders that we have been shown we can all become.

 

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